Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Quick Ten-Step Refutation of Sola Scriptura

TABLE OF CONTENTS

1. Sola Scriptura is Not Taught in the Bible
2. "Word of God"
3. Tradition is Not a Dirty Word
4. Jesus and Paul Accepted Non-Biblical Oral and Written Traditions
5. Jerusalem Council
6. Pharisees, Sadducees, and Oral, Extrabiblical Tradition
7. OT Jews Did Not Believe in Sola Scriptura / Necessity of Interpretation
8. 2 Timothy 3:16-17: The Protestant "Proof Text"
9. Paul Casually Assumes that His Passed-Down Tradition is Infallible and Binding
10. Sola Scriptura is a Radically Circular Position


1. Sola Scriptura is Not Taught in the Bible

Scripture certainly is a "standard of truth" (we agree fully with Protestants), even the preeminent one, but not in a sense that rules out the binding authority of authentic apostolic Tradition and the Church. The Bible doesn't teach that. Catholics agree with Protestants that Scripture is materially sufficient. In other words, every true doctrine can be found in the Bible, if only implicitly and indirectly by deduction. But no biblical passage teaches that Scripture is the formal authority or Rule of Faith for the Christian (formal sufficiency), in isolation from the Church and Apostolic Tradition. Sola Scriptura can't even be deduced from implicit passages. Protestants try to make that argument, but (with all due respect) I think the effort is doomed to failure. I've never seen it, and I've discussed the issue with Protestants many, many times in the 13 years since my conversion.
 
2. "Word of God"

"Word" in Holy Scripture quite often refers to a proclaimed, oral word of prophets or apostles. Prophets spoke the word of God, whether or not their utterances were later recorded as written Scripture. So for example, we read in Jeremiah 25:3, 7-8 (NIV):
3 For twenty-three years- . . . the word of the LORD has come to me and I have spoken to you again and again, . . .
7 "But you did not listen to me," declares the LORD , . . .
8 Therefore the LORD Almighty says this: "Because you have not listened to my words,
This was the word of God or word of the Lord whether or not it was recorded in writing or made it into later canonized Scripture. It had equal authority in writing or as proclamation-never-reduced-to-writing. This was also true of apostolic preaching. When the phrases word of God or word of the Lord appear in Acts and the Epistles, they almost always refer to oral preaching, not to Scripture. For example:
1 Thessalonians 2:13 . . . when you received the word of God which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men, but as what it really is, the word of God
If we compare this passage with another, written to the same church, Paul appears to regard tradition and word of God as synonymous:
2 Thessalonians 3:6 . . . keep away from any brother who is living in idleness and not in accord with the tradition that you received from us.
3. Tradition is Not a Dirty Word
 
Protestants often quote the verses in the Bible where corrupt traditions of men are condemned (e.g., Matt 15:2-6, Mk 7:8-13, Col 2:8). Of course, Catholics agree with this. But it's not the whole truth. True, apostolic traditions are also positively endorsed. These traditions are in total harmony with and consistent with Scripture. In that sense, Scripture is the "final Judge" of Tradition, but not in the sense that it rules out all binding Tradition and Church authority. Here are a few relevant verses (RSV):
1 Corinthians 11:2 I commend you because you remember me in everything and maintain the traditions even as I have delivered them to you.

2 Thessalonians 2:15 . . . stand firm and hold to the traditions which you were taught by us, either by word of mouth, or by letter.
2 Timothy 1:13-14 Follow the pattern of the sound words which you have heard from me . . . guard the truth which has been entrusted to you by the Holy Spirit who dwells within us.

2 Timothy 2:2 And what you have heard from me before many witnesses entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.

Jude 3 . . . contend for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints.
[cf. Acts 2:42, which mentions "the apostles' teaching"]
4. Jesus and Paul Accepted Non-Biblical Oral and Written Traditions
 
Protestants defending sola Scriptura will claim that Jesus and Paul accepted the authority of the Old Testament. This is true, but they also appealed to other authority, outside of written revelation. For example:
A) Matthew 2:23: the reference to ". . . He shall be called a Nazarene " cannot be found in the Old Testament, yet it was passed down "by the prophets." Thus, a prophecy, which is considered to be "God's Word" was passed down orally, rather than through Scripture.

B) Matthew 23:2-3: Jesus teaches that the scribes and Pharisees have a legitimate, binding authority, based on Moses' seat, which phrase (or idea) cannot be found anywhere in the Old Testament. It is found in the (originally oral) Mishna, where a sort of "teaching succession" from Moses on down is taught.
And now two examples from the Apostle Paul:
C) In 1 Corinthians 10:4, St. Paul refers to a rock which "followed" the Jews through the Sinai wilderness. The Old Testament says nothing about such miraculous movement, in the related passages about Moses striking the rock to produce water (Exodus 17:1-7; Numbers 20:2-13). But rabbinic tradition does.


D) 2 Timothy 3:8: "As Jannes and Jambres opposed Moses . . . " These two men cannot be found in the related Old Testament passage (Exodus 7:8 ff.), or anywhere else in the Old Testament.
5. Jerusalem Council
 
In the Jerusalem Council (Acts 15:6-30), we see Peter and James speaking with authority. This Council makes an authoritative pronouncement (citing the Holy Spirit) which was binding on all Christians:
Acts 15:28-29: For it has seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us to lay upon you no greater burden than these necessary things: that you abstain from what has been sacrificed to idols and from blood and from what is strangled and from unchastity.
In the next chapter, we read that Paul, Timothy, and Silas were traveling around "through the cities," and Scripture says that:
. . . they delivered to them for observance the decisions which had been reached by the apostles and elders who were at Jerusalem. (Acts 16:4)
This is Church authority. They simply proclaimed the decree as true and binding -- with the sanction of the Holy Spirit Himself! Thus we see in the Bible an instance of the gift of infallibility that the Catholic Church claims for itself when it assembles in a council.
 
6. Pharisees, Sadducees, and Oral, Extrabiblical Tradition

Christianity was derived in many ways from the Pharisaical tradition of Judaism. The Sadducees, on the other hand, were much more heretical. They rejected the future resurrection and the soul, the afterlife, rewards and retribution, demons and angels, and predestinarianism. The Sadducees were the theological liberals of that time. Christian Pharisees are referred to in Acts 15:5 and Philippians 3:5, but the Bible never mentions Christian Sadducees. The Sadducees also rejected all authoritative oral teaching, and essentially believed in sola Scriptura. So neither the (orthodox) Old Testament Jews nor the early Church were guided by the principle of sola Scriptura. The Pharisees (despite their corruptions and excesses) were the mainstream Jewish tradition, and both Jesus and Paul acknowledge this.
 
7. Old Testament Jews Did Not Believe in Sola Scriptura / Necessity of Interpretation

To give two examples from the Old Testament itself:
A) Ezra 7:6,10: Ezra, a priest and scribe, studied the Jewish law and taught it to Israel, and his authority was binding, under pain of imprisonment, banishment, loss of goods, and even death (7:25-26).


B) Nehemiah 8:1-8: Ezra reads the law of Moses to the people in Jerusalem (8:3). In 8:7 we find thirteen Levites who assisted Ezra, and who helped the people to understand the law. Much earlier, we find Levites exercising the same function (2 Chronicles 17:8-9). In Nehemiah 8:8: . . . they read from the book, from the law of God, clearly, and they gave the sense, so that the people understood the reading.
So the people did indeed understand the law (Neh 8:12), but not without much assistance - not merely upon hearing. Likewise, the Bible is not altogether clear in and of itself, but requires the aid of teachers who are more familiar with biblical styles and Hebrew idiom, background, context, exegesis and cross-reference, hermeneutical principles, original languages, etc. The Old Testament, then, teaches about a binding Tradition and need for authoritative interpreters, as does the New Testament:
C) And behold, an Ethiopian, a eunuch . . . seated in his chariot, he was reading the prophet Isaiah . . . So Philip ran to him, and heard him reading Isaiah the prophet, and asked, "Do you understand what you are reading?" And he said, "How can I, unless some one guides me?" (Acts 8:27-28, 30-31)

D) . . . no prophecy of scripture is a matter of one's own interpretation.
(2 Peter 1:20)

E) . . . So also our beloved brother Paul wrote to you according to the wisdom given him . . . There are some things in them [Paul's letters] hard to understand, which the ignorant and unstable twist to their own destruction, as they do the other scriptures. (2 Peter 3:15-16)

F) With many such parables he spoke the word to them, as they were able to hear it; he did not speak to them without a parable, but privately to his own disciples he explained everything. (Mark 4:33-34)
8. 2 Timothy 3:16-17: The Protestant "Proof Text"
All scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work. (RSV)
This passage doesn't teach formal sufficiency, which excludes a binding, authoritative role for Tradition and Church. Protestants extrapolate onto the text what isn't there. If we look at the overall context of this passage, in 2 Timothy alone, Paul makes reference to oral Tradition three times (1:13-14, 2:2, 3:14). And to use an analogy, let's examine a very similar passage, Ephesians 4:11-15:
And his gifts were that some should be apostle, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors and teachers, for the equipment of the saints, for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ; so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the cunning of men, by their craftiness in deceitful wiles. Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are able to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ,
If 2nd Timothy 3 proves the sole sufficiency of Scripture, then by analogy, Ephesians 4 would likewise prove the sufficiency of pastors, teachers and so forth for the attainment of Christian perfection. In Ephesians 4:11-15 the Christian believer is equipped, built up, brought into unity and mature manhood, knowledge of Jesus, the fulness of Christ, and even preserved from doctrinal confusion by means of the teaching function of the Church. This is a far stronger statement of the perfecting of the saints than 2 Timothy 3:16-17, yet it doesn't even mention Scripture.
 
So if all non-scriptural elements are excluded in 2 Timothy, then, by analogy, Scripture would logically have to be excluded in Ephesians. It is far more reasonable to recognize that the absence of one or more elements in one passage does not mean they are nonexistent. The Church and Scripture are both equally necessary and important for teaching. And of course this is the Catholic view.
 
9. Paul Casually Assumes that His Passed-Down Tradition is Infallible and Binding

If Paul wasn't assuming that, he would have been commanding his followers to adhere to a mistaken doctrine. He writes, for example:
2 Thessalonians 3:14 If any one refuses to obey what we say in this letter, note that man, and have nothing to do with him, that he may be ashamed.
Romans 16:17: . . . take note of those who create dissensions and difficulties, in
opposition to the doctrine which you have been taught; avoid them.
Paul didn't write:
. . . . in opposition to the pretty-much, mostly, largely true but not infallible doctrine which you have been taught . . .
10. Sola Scriptura is a Radically Circular Position
 
When all is said and done, Protestants who accept sola Scriptura as their Rule of Faith appeal to the Bible. If they are asked why one should believe in their particular denominational teaching rather than another, each will appeal to the "Bible's clear teaching" and oftentimes act as if they have no tradition which guides their own interpretation.
 
This is similar to people on two sides of a legal, constitutional debate both saying, "well, we go by what is constitutional, whereas you guys don't." The U.S. Constitution, like the Bible, is not sufficient in and of itself to resolve differing interpretations. Judges and courts are necessary, and their decrees are binding. Supreme Court rulings cannot be overturned except by a future Supreme Court or by constitutional amendment. In any event, there is always a final appeal which settles the matter.
 
But Protestantism lacks this because it appeals to a logically self-defeating principle and a book (which must always be interpreted by human beings). Obviously (given the divisions in Protestantism) simply "going to the Bible" hasn't worked. In the end, a person has no assurance or certainty in the Protestant system. They can only "go to the Bible" themselves and perhaps come up with another doctrinal version of some disputed doctrine to add to the list. One either believes there is one truth in any given theological dispute (whatever it is) or they adopt a relativist or indifferentist position, where contradictions are fine or where the doctrine is so "minor" that differences "don't matter."
 
But the Bible doesn't teach that whole categories of doctrines are "minor" and that Christians can freely and joyfully disagree in such a fashion. Denominationalism and divisions are vigorously condemned. The only conclusion we can reach from the Bible is what we call the "three-legged stool": Bible, Church, and Tradition are all necessary to arrive at truth. If you knock out any leg of a three-legged stool, it collapses.

Uploaded on 10 October 2003 by Dave Armstrong. Added to blog on 21 November 2006.

55 comments:

Kalkas said...

PART 1/3

Here follows my answers to each objection.

1) Sola Scriptura is Not Taught in the Bible

First, the principle of Sola Scriptura is a meta-biblical principle, i.e. it says something about the Bible. As such, we would not expect that the Bible, as a collection of books written by different authors in different times, would explicitly speak about books that were not yet formed. We would not expect since such statement presupposes the closure of canon. The next point addresses the relation between Sola Scriptura and the closure of the canon.

Second, the principle of Sola Scriptura presupposes the idea of closed canonicity because the principle makes sense only in a context where one raises the question of the sufficient and final authority of the Holy Scriptures qua an established and closed body of books. The historical background of the formulation of the principle was during the Protestant Reformation, when the central question was how authoritative is this body of Holy Scriptures: whether it is the only infallible and final authority for the Church. This question presupposed the view of the closed canon.

Third, Sola Scriptura is implicitly taught in the Bible, i.e. can be logically deduced by certain biblical observations as the following ones. (1) There are two biblical texts explicitly stating that we are forbidden both to add unto and to remove anything from God's commandments (Deut 4:2 and Deut 12:32). (2) The foundation of the Church is the infallible word given by God's prophets and apostles (Eph 2:20). (3) 2 Thess 2:15 teaches that the Church is submitted only to the traditions of the Apostolic teachings; teachings of the Apostles through their words and written epistles. We have only their written epistles. Moreover, we have only the written word of prophets and apostles preserved in the body of the Holy Scriptures. We cannot add any new instruction, acting as infallible authoritative interpretation, to the Scriptures because of (1). Thus, we have only the Scriptures. In other words, we have the truth of Sola Scriptura.

2) "Word of God"

The second objection argues that oral oral words of prophets or apostles were infallibly authoritative. This cannot serve as an objection against Sola Scriptura, since the principle of Sola Scriptura does not necessarily deny the principle of the uniform authority of prophecies, i.e. a principle teaching that orally spoken prophecies were assigned the same authority as written acknowledged prophecies, in the period of formation of the Holy Scriptures. Thus, oral words of prophets or apostles were infallibly authoritative because the ministries of prophets and apostles were of foundational character in the period of formation of the Holy Scriptures, i.e. the period before the completion of the canon. Recall that Sola Scriptura makes sense only in a context where one raises the question of the sufficient and final authority of the Holy Scriptures qua an established and closed body of books, see the reply to the first objection above.

3) Tradition is Not a Dirty Word

An adherent of the principle of Sola Scriptura can readily accept that the tradition is not a dirty word if the tradition we speak of is the tradition of apostolic teachings (2 Thess 2:15). However, a tradition consisting of "commandments of men" (Matthew 15:3, 9) is strongly criticized by Jesus Christ because such a tradition violates the explicit divine commands of Deut 4:2 and Deut 12:32.

Continuation in the next post.

Kalkas said...

PART 2/3

4) Jesus and Paul Accepted Non-Biblical Oral and Written Traditions

A proponent of the principle Sola Scriptura can readily agree with this because both Jesus and apostles quote oral charismatic tradition that is founded upon oral prophecies precisely because any true and divine inspired prophetic word is infallibly authoritative. To repeat, Sola Scriptura does not necessarily deny the principle of the uniform authority of prophecies; see reply to your second objection above.

5) Jerusalem Council

A proponent of the principle Sola Scriptura does accept the binding authority of apostles and prophets because the ministries of prophets and apostles were of foundational character (Eph 2:20). However, we do not have any more prophets and apostles because their foundational ministries were fulfilled with the completion of the canon of the Holy Scriptures. Consequently, there is no such apostolic binding authority, except the one found in the Scriptures. Thus, we have the truth of the Sola Scriptura

(Continuation in the second post)

6) Pharisees, Sadducees, and Oral, Extrabiblical Tradition

According to the objection, Christianity was derived in many ways from the Pharisaical tradition of Judaism. It is also said that the Pharisees (despite their corruptions and excesses) were the mainstream Jewish tradition, and both Jesus and Paul acknowledge this. Such an objection is odd in the light of Christ's strong antagonistic attitude to this Pharisaical tradition. He calls Pharisees for vipers and "whited sepulchers" (Mat 23:27, 33). According to Christ's very own words to Pharisees: " Why do ye transgress the commandment of God by your tradition? (...) But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men." (Matt 15:3, 9) Which divine commandment does Christ refer to? It is a command forbidding their human tradition that was not derived from God, namely divine commands of Deut 4:2 and Deut 12:32, quoted below.

"Ye shall not add unto the word which I command you, neither shall ye diminish ought from it, that ye may keep the commandments of the LORD your God which I command you. … What thing soever I command you, observe to do it: thou shalt not add thereto, nor diminish from it."

The Roman Catholic Church is similar to Pharisaical tradition in that it has developed a human tradition, "teaching for doctrines the commandments of men."

Continuation in the next post

Kalkas said...

PART 3/3

7) Old Testament Jews Did Not Believe in Sola Scriptura / Necessity of interpretation

The point with the seventh objection is that there is a necessity of the aid of teachers in the interpretation of the Scriptures. Why would this represent an objection to Sola Scriptura? An adherent of Sola Scriptura would not object to this, but at the same time insist on the fallibility of every human interpretation. The point with the Sola Scriptura is that we have to question every tradition in the light of the Scriptures because our human traditions are fallible. Even our interpretation of the Scriptures is fallible, but this does not mean that we cannot be guided by it. If we follow the sound principles of interpretation, we would reach a good understanding of the Scriptures. Nevertheless, due to our human fallible nature, our beliefs are not absolutely (infallibly) certain. Even the Roman Catholic belief in the infallibility of the Church tradition also shares the same fallible nature.

8) 2 Timothy 3:16-17: The Protestant "Proof Text"

Not all advocates for Sola Scriptura take 2 Tim 3:16-17 as the proof-text. So, I basically agree that 2 Tim 3:16-17 is not a proof text for Sola Scriptura

9) Paul Casually Assumes that His Passed-Down Tradition is Infallible and Binding

This objection is the repetition of the fifth objection.

10) Sola Scriptura is a Radically Circular Position

Well, in my response to the first objection, I have shown that the Bible implicitly teaches Sola Scriptura. However, I concede that my belief in the Sola Scriptura is a matter of faith. We do not live yet in the realm of absolute certainty, and that's why we believe in God and the Bible and in our Tradition. We cannot say that we absolutely know that we are right. We have to recognize the possibility that we might be wrong, even in our belief in the Bible or the Tradition. My point is that our interpretations are fallible no matter what book we try to understand. Even there are disagreements among Roman Catholic scholars concerning their body of theological writings.

Kind regards, Aleksandar

Maroun said...

Hi Aleksandar.

Look,i will tell you a few things a simply as i can.
God did not leave humanity in confusion,you kept repeating that we will never know for sure,maybe we are right and maybe we are wrong....Great,so people will go to their grave not knowing if what they believed was right or wrong?
Then you said : We do not live yet in the realm of absolute certainty.

Oh yes we do,especialy whem we speak about dogmas.
And then you keep insisting and saying that the catholic church is not infallible....Great,so a fallible church gave you an infallible bible?Come on Aleksandar,maybe the church gave you the wrong bible,and you are following a fallible church which maybe gave you the wrong word of God?Does this make any sens to you?Of course not,so in order to believe that the bible is the word of God,then the church which gave us the bible must be infallible,otherwise,we are in trouble,but thank God we are not....
And then you said:Even there are disagreements among Roman Catholic scholars concerning their body of theological writings.

Could you please tell us,such as?Again i insist,about which dogma,do the catholic theologians disagree?
In the end,i will only tell you this.Which one of the different thousands protestant denominations is correct?and who decides which one is correct?who decides who is ever right or wrong about anything?they are all convinced that they are led by the Holy Spirit,and they all believe contradictory things,and they are all divided among themselves,all confused...Is this your idea of followers of Christ?

Kalkas said...

REPLY, PART 1/2

Hello,

In the strict epistemic sense, our belief in God is a belief and not knowledge. Even Thomas Aquinas would agree with this. However, our faith does have an inner certainty, cf. Heb 11:1, but this certainty is not knowledge in the strict sense, because knowledge requires well-grounded reasons and evidence. Evidence is also a matter of interpretation of observational data, and our interpretations can be faulty ones.

So, your belief in the infallibility of the Roman Catholic tradition is, after all, fallible, chiefly because we are human beings, having a fallible nature. That's our human predicament after the Fall.

How can you know that the Roman Catholic Tradition is the true one, especially seen in the light of its dark history of inquisition and murder of heretics, wars, etc? Did not Jesus tell us that we should pray for our enemies and bless those who hate us?

I do not doubt that you have an inner certainty in the existence of God, dogmas, etc. But dogmas, per definition, are beliefs that must be accepted unquestionably. They, qua beliefs, have not the epistemic status of knowledge.

Now, it is evident that Roman Catholics have divisions and that there were many schisms as the result of intra-Catholic disputes. In some periods, there were even two popes! Throughout the history of Catholic Church, there were so many disputes resulting in many schisms: Nestorian Schism, Chalcedonian schism, Photian schism, East-West Schism, Western Schism, etc. Yes, the Roman Catholic Church has a unity but with the cost of violent inquisitions, ex-communications and schisms. Which prompts an interesting question: why would we not follow the Eastern Orthodox Church, which has the same claim of apostolic succession? How should we determine which tradition is the right one?

Yes, the Roman Catholic Church has a unity, but so do have many other Christian traditions, such as various Anabaptist traditions: Mennonite, Hutterite, Bohemian Brothers, Free Brethren, Evangelical Baptists, etc. Disagreements between these groups of Christians are indeed minor; think about numerous Roman Catholic orders when you perceive many divisions among Christians of Anabaptist and Brethren traditions. These groups respect each other and can fellowship together; no wonder when they were heavily persecuted by both Roman Catholics and Protestants throughout the history. What is common with all these groups is pacifism: denial to go to war against people of other beliefs because of Christ's sermon on the Mount. I do not perceive the Roman Catholic Church as respecting Christ's sermon on the Mount.

Thus, ultimately, we end up with the question of interpretation: which interpretation is the right one? The Roman Catholic denial of Sola Scriptura is, after all, a matter of interpretation of the same Holy Scriptures that we both accept as unquestionably infallible.

Now, I am curious how can Roman Catholics accept the papal authority as equal to the apostolic one when the pope does not have the signs of an apostle (cf. 2 Cor 12:12). A man claiming such authority is in effect an apostle, a kind of authority involving the ministry of a prophet as well. The same question applies for Catholic councils. How can we know that the decisions of such councils are infallible when persons involved in decisions are neither apostles nor prophets? Only prophets and apostles could issue new instructions and commandments because these would be regarded as divine. Are cardinals the new apostles and prophets? If so, I have not seen that they have miraculous signs of prophethood or apostleship.

Continues in the part 2/2

Kalkas said...

REPLY, PART 2/2

My point is that the claim of infallible authority, ex cathedra, is ultimately the claim of being a prophet. It can be shown that papal prophetic/apostolic authority fails certain tests that any prophet/apostle must be evaluated by. Consider following passages Deut 13:1-5 and Deut 18:20-22. These passages say that a prophet must not contradict God's law and that a prophetic word has a predictive quality. The same applies for the test of apostles, cf. 2 Cor 12:12. Now, consider also Exodus 20:4-5, which forbids the cult of saints and Mariolatry, together with Deut 4:2 and Deut 12:32, which forbids any addition unto God's commandments and any removal from God's law. Would not the cult of saints and Mariolatry be a violation of Exodus 20:4-5? Would not new Catholic decrees, acting as infallible, be in effect addition to God's words?

We have to have the fear of the Lord when reading Exodus 20:4-5.

“Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth: Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the LORD thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me;” Exodus 20:4, 5.

For this reason, my hermeneutic conscience cannot accept the Roman Catholic practice as a correct one, when it blatantly violates the divine commandment of Exodus 20:4-5.

I have shown how the Scriptures implicitly teaches Sola Scriptura. On the other hand, I fail to see how the Scriptures teach that the Roman Catholic tradition is infallible. There is no instruction that would allow Christians not involved in prophetic ministry to issue new instructions, where such instructions would act as new infallible rules of faith, and qua infallible rules of faith being implicitly added to God's commandments. Would not this constitute a blatant violation of Deut 4:2 and Deut 12:32?

Best regards,
Aleksandar

Kalkas said...

Hello again,

I forgot to give a brief comment on your question: "Great,so a fallible church gave you an infallible bible?"

When talking about "fallibility of the Church," I do understand this only in a technical sense: Church that lacks infallible interpreters. So, yes, you are right, "a fallible Church" cannot produce an infallible Bible. Thus, the Roman Catholic Church did not produce the infallible Bible. It was the Prophets of the Old Testament and Apostolic Church of the first century that produced the infallible Bible for obvious reason that they were the infallible interpreters as well.

Kind regards,
Aleksandar

Maroun said...

HI ALEKSANDAR.
Look,with all my respect,but what i am about to tell you might seem rude,but the truth is,everything you said is wrong,and i insist on the word everything.
It is very obvious that your false and wrong informations came from anti-catholic sources,or if not,then from your pure ignorance from everything the catholic believes and teaches.
Like it`s so obvious,that you have no idea whatsoever of the canon law of scriptures....
And then the thing about images,do you really believe that the catholics or orthodox worship and serve the statues and paintings?if yes,then your are very mistaking,and if not,then why did you quote that verse to falsely accuse us?
Do you have any kids?if you do and if you carry their pictures in your pockets or in your office or at home,then you are an idolotar in your own beliefs...
Or do you also think that God contradicted His own commandment,when he ordered Moses to build the bronze snake?or also the arch of the covenant? and other things also?...
And about the popes,it was a pope and an anti popes...And again this has nothing to do with infallability...
The you said Nestorian schism?lol,Nestorianism is a heresy and not a schism,my very educated friend...And then again excomunications?lol,you really have no idea whatsover what is it that you are talking about?you are probably someone who has read a few books lately,and now thinks he knows everything?and by the way you quote things,everything as i told you before , everything you said is wrong or false...
And then you said :Are cardinals the new apostles and prophets? If so, I have not seen that they have miraculous signs of prophethood or apostleship.
Lol,so you want to see miracles always ,otherwise the apostles are not apostles?There is no such things as new and old apostles,apostles are apostles in every age...
Look,i really dont even know if i should bother and take you seriously?
If you are serious and really looking for answers and not as you seem to be just coming in here to illuminate us and show us your light and your understandings,plz go to new advent encyclopedia and check all the questions which you have on mind,or check also the cathechism of the catholic church,then you will understand what is that the church realy and truly teaches,then if you like you can disagree,but not before,not by reading from anticatholic sources,or just counting on your own ( wrong ) understanding...
GBU

Kalkas said...

Hello,

Do not Roman Catholics pray to the saints and Mary? From my observation of Catholic meetings, my impression is that Roman Catholics pray to saints and Mary. Such practice is a serious sin; see my previous replies.

Did the Jews pray to the bronze snake? Was the bronze snake an object of prayer? I don't think so.

If you want to engage in a civil and decent discussion, please read carefully my objections concerning the Roman Catholic claim of infallibility. In addition to my objections, please consider the offered biblical arguments for the principle of Sola Scriptura

Kind regards,
Aleksandar

Kalkas said...

Hello,

It seems that you have not understood the point about schisms. The historic fact of schisms show that there was numereous inter-Catholic disputes among bishops and cardinals. For instance, the Western Schism or Papal Schism was caused by the inter-Catholic disputes among cardinals for political power. This very historic fact shows that the Catholic Tradition is not immune to divisions and disputes, and as such it seems to be an insufficient Authoritative Guide for the Church. The point is that the Roman Catholic objection against Sola Scriptura that highlights disputes concerning the right interpretation of the Bible is self-refuting seen in the light that the Catholic Tradition is not immune towards disagreements among its bishops and cardinals.

It seems that infallible popes often have a hard time agreeing to what is infallible and what is not. Alexander V said Gregory XII was a heretic (or was it the other way around?). Oh, yes, Alexander was perhaps a heretical pope, so this does not really count, right? Well what about Clement VIII, who burned all of the Catholic bibles approved of by Pope Sixtus V?

It is also a curious fact that even the Bible was in the index of forbidden books. It seems odd to put the Bible in the index of forbidden books, when it was "given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works." (2 Timothy 3:16-17)

It seems rather that the Roman Catholic Church represents the history of misinterpretation of the Bible, and as such I cannot trust its understanding of the Scriptures. For instance, it is said that the Bible is materially sufficient but not formally sufficient. Materially sufficient means that everything the Christian needs to believe is found in Scripture. Formally sufficient means that the Roman Catholic Church has to interpret the Bible in order to understand it. Such view of sufficiency of the Bible is very odd, since we do not see doctrines such as worship of Mary, prayer to Mary, her immaculate conception, purgatory, penance, etc., found in Scripture (material sufficiency). Therefore, we must naturally ask if the Roman Catholic view of formal sufficiency is correct. It is not.

Kind regards,
Aleksandar

Kalkas said...

Hello Maroun,

To my previous question, "Are cardinals the new apostles and prophets? If so, I have not seen that they have miraculous signs of prophethood or apostleship," you said: "Lol,so you want to see miracles always ,otherwise the apostles are not apostles?There is no such things as new and old apostles,apostles are apostles in every age...
Look,i really dont even know if i should bother and take you seriously?"

First, I do not "want to see miracles always," since I am a Cessationist concerning the miraculous gifts of the Spirit, which would also involve the cessation of the ministries of prophets and apostles.

Second, I would take your answers quite seriously if you would be so kind to back up your claims with biblical arguments. So far, you have not done so. For instance, what biblical evidence have you for your claim about the ministry of apostles ("there is no such things as new and old apostles,apostles are apostles in every age")?

Is it not reasonable that we appeal to some common ground in our dispute, i.e. premises on which we both can agree on, and from this common ground argue for our respective positions? Your objections, so far, have been question begging because you always appeal to statements not supported by the Bible.

Kind regards,
Aleksandar

Maroun said...

Hi Aleksandar.
You aid that i didnt back my arguments with biblical evidence.
I have already asked you to check the new advent encyclopedia and the cathechism of the catholic church,what more do you want?
I am sure that if you do check them,not only you will have all the answers which you are looking for,but a lot lot more.
That`s why i told you that i dont know if i should even bother,because the problem with protestants,is that whenever we have to speak or discuss anything with anyone,we have to speak and discuss the same things 500000 times.
And then you said,that we catholics pray to saints and to the virgin Mary.
What`s wrong with asking the saints to pray for us,saint Paul himself which said that Jesus is the only mediator between God and men,prayed for the others and asked the others to pray for him.
And also our God is the God of Abraham the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob,He is the God of the living and not of the dead.
Now if your god is not the God of the living,that`s your problem not mine.
The problem with the protestants again,is also the fact that they have emptied heaven,according to them,there is nothing and no one in heaven except Jesus.
And i know what you will say,i have heard it a million times,but no,it`s not empty,but they cannot hear us,they cant pray for us,they are not almighty,and so on.
Look , again i ask you to check one of Dave`s books , which is called biblical evidence for catholicism...
GBU

Kalkas said...

Hello Maroun,

Can you please offer any biblical example of godly men who have prayed to the saints in heaven? Is there any biblical instruction for us to pray to the saints? I believe that the answer to both above questions is negative. Moreover, important doctrines such as worship of Mary, prayer to Mary, her immaculate conception, purgatory, penance, etc., are not found in Scripture. Could you, then, explain to me how is the Bible materially sufficient? We should expect that these important doctrines are found in the Scriptures, since the official position of the Roman Catholic Church is that the Bible is materially sufficient. "Materially sufficient" means that everything the Christian needs to believe is found in Scripture.

This shows that there is something odd about the Catholic doctrine of sufficiency of the Scriptures. The Roman Catholic Church affirms material sufficiency, but not formal sufficiency of the Bible (if formal sufficiency was granted, we would have the truth of Sola Scriptura). Therefore, we must naturally ask if the Roman Catholic view of formal sufficiency is correct. I believe that it is not.

Best regards,
Aleksandar

Maroun said...

Hi Aleksandar.
Everything you said again is wrong.
I mean your claims that penance,purgatory,the immaculate conception,that according to you are not found in scripture...
Now how many times do i have to kindly and humbly ask you to check the new advent encyclopedia and the cathechism of the catholic church?i am not going to do your homeworks you know?why do you keep asking and i keep telling you where and what to read to have your questions answered,and then again and again,you come back and say,could you please give me any biblical example?why do you think i keep asking you to check the new advent and the cathechism?or also Dave`s biblical evidence for catholithism?isn`t because in them instead of one,you will have several and a lot more than you need?
So please,and this is realy the last time i will answer you unless you check the sources which i gave you.If you are really looking for answers,then you already know where to look.
And by the way,both the new advent encyclopedia and the cathechism of the catholic church are found for free on the internet,so you dont even have to buy them.And yes there are not one but many biblical evidences for purgatory,penance,and immaculate conception,and everything else.
GBU

Kalkas said...

Hello Maroun

Why should I consult "new advent encyclopedia and the cathechism of the catholic church" when I do not accept these sources as final and infallible authority. I do not know whether our discussion can be fruitful if we do not have some common ground. Is it not rather reasonable to appeal to some common ground that we regard as indisputable? In the context of our discussion, should not the Bible be our common ground by which we can evaluate our premises and statements? If you think that "Dave's biblical evidence" provides answers to my objections, well why would you not briefly share them here?

Could you please offer biblical evidence for important Roman Catholic doctrines such as worship of Mary, prayer to Mary, her Immaculate Conception, purgatory, penance? If you cannot provide biblical evidence for your statements, I cannot take your statements seriously.

To repeat, the Roman Catholic doctrine of material sufficiency of the Scriptures is quite odd given the fact that important Roman Catholic doctrines are not taught in the Bible; see the list of some of important Catholic doctrines above. This shows that there is something odd about the general Catholic doctrine of sufficiency of the Scriptures. And thus, my previous objection regarding the Catholic view of the sufficiency of the Bible is still unanswered.

Kind regards,
Aleksandar

Adomnan said...

Kalkas: Why should I consult "new advent encyclopedia and the cathechism of the catholic church" when I do not accept these sources as final and infallible authority.

Adomnan: I believe that Maroun is suggesting you consult these sources because they often provide a biblical basis for doctrines like prayer to the saints, purgatory and penance.

Chances are, if we were to argue that these doctrines were biblical, we'd just draw our arguments from the catechism anyway. So you might as well go straight to the source we would use and spare us the trouble of all that typing.

Kalkas: If you think that "Dave's biblical evidence" provides answers to my objections, well why would you not briefly share them here?

Adomnan: You can get to Dave's biblical evidence yourself easily from this blog. Why don't you review Dave's arguments and then bring your objections to them here? Maybe we'll discuss those.

Kalkas: To repeat, the Roman Catholic doctrine of material sufficiency of the Scriptures is quite odd given the fact that important Roman Catholic doctrines are not taught in the Bible.

Adomnan: First of all, the material sufficiency of the Scriptures is not a "Roman Catholic doctrine." It is a view held by many theologians, but it is not "de fide," a matter of faith.

Secondly, the doctrine does not require that all doctrines be stated explicitly in the Scriptures, only that they be implied. For example, the doctrine of the Trinity ("three Persons in one God") and the doctrine that Jesus Christ is a divine Person with two natures (divine and human) are not stated explicitly in the Scriptures, but are, we believe, implied.

Or, to take one of your examples, since the Bible never tells us explicitly to pray to the Holy Spirit and it is debatable whether it ever recommends prayer to Jesus, it is unlikely that we will find some passage that explicitly tells us to pray to Mary, isn't it?

Does that mean you don't pray to the Holy Spirit or Jesus? (Maybe you don't. I don't know.)

More generally, however, your questions are beside the point to many of us Catholics. In the unlikely event that you succeeded in proving to us that some Catholic doctrine -- like invocation of the sains, for example -- were not at all implied in Scripture, then we would just abandon the notion of material sufficiency, which is only a theological opinion, as I said, and not a matter of faith.

And further, if we were to adduce arguments, as has frequently been done (by Dave, for example), that the Bible implied invocation of the saints, you would simply deny that it did, while we would affirm it, and we'd be at an impasse. Why even go there?

Adomnan said...

Kalkas: 1) Sola Scriptura is Not Taught in the Bible

First, the principle of Sola Scriptura is a meta-biblical principle, i.e. it says something about the Bible.

Adomnan: "Meta-biblical"? Meta-biblical means "beyond the Bible" just as "metaphysical" means "beyond the physical." If sola scriptura is "beyond the Bible," then it's not taught in the Bible.

Kalkas: Third, Sola Scriptura is implicitly taught in the Bible, i.e. can be logically deduced by certain biblical observations as the following ones. (1) There are two biblical texts explicitly stating that we are forbidden both to add unto and to remove anything from God's commandments (Deut 4:2 and Deut 12:32).

Adomnan: These texts only prohibit adding to or removing from the specific books in which they are found, like the warning at the end of Revelation. If Deut prohibited adding to the Scriptures, period, then nothing should have been written after Deuteronomy.

Kalkas: (2) The foundation of the Church is the infallible word given by God's prophets and apostles (Eph 2:20).

Adomnan: The infallible word of God is passed down down in both writtten and oral form, the latter especially in the case of the apostles. You are assuming, quite wrongly, that God's word is only the written word. Since when are words only written?

Kalkas: 3) 2 Thess 2:15 teaches that the Church is submitted only to the traditions of the Apostolic teachings; teachings of the Apostles through their words and written epistles. We have only their written epistles.

Adomnan: But you're just assuming what you want to prove and what we deny. We also have the teachings of the apostles through the oral tradition that they vouchsafed to the Church. For example, there were twelve apostles. How many wrote texts that have come down to us? So what happened to what the others taught? And what makes you think that those apostles who did write included all of their teaching in their writings? After all, Paul even alludes to lost letters that he wrote, which undoubtedly contained teachings that did not show up in his extant letters. (Otherwise, why would he bother to have written the lost letters? He could have just circulated the ones we have more widely if they contained all his teaching.)

The oral traditions of the apostles are contained primarily in the liturgy, but also include teachings such as Mary as the New Eve. (And, no, I'm not going to supply you with a complete list.)

Kalkas: We cannot add any new instruction, acting as infallible authoritative interpretation, to the Scriptures because of (1).

Adomnan: Nonsense. As I said, if your citations from Deut proved any such thing, it would prove that nothing should have been revealed after Deuteronomy. Besides, we don't add any new instruction, the deposit of faith was given once for all by the apostles, partly written and partly in the form of oral tradition.

And are you implying that the Scriptures don't have to be interpreted? Does that mean we can throw out all biblical commentaries and end all discussion? Or if interpretation cannot be "authoritative" and even "infallible" when necessary, then what good it is?

Maroun said...

Adomnan.
Thank you for answering Kalkas on my behalf.
This is just too funny,he asked me to quote at least one biblical verse,and i asked his to check the cathechism and the new advent and Dave`s biblical evidence for catholithism,and then he asks me,why should i check them?lol
Hey Kalkas,no matter what you say and what you do,i told you and i repeat it again and again,i am not going to do your homeworks.So if you are looking for biblical verses,plz check what i asked you to check,if not,it`s your choice and your problem.I have already very kindly told you,that we are tired of repeating the same things 500 000 times for each and every protestant.
GBU

Adomnan said...

Maroun: Thank you for answering Kalkas on my behalf.

Adomnan: You're welcome, Maroun. Looks like Kalkas gave up. Or maybe he decided to read Dave's material after all, and he'll be back here with comments.

Kalkas said...

Hello Adomnan and Marou

Adomnan: These texts [Deut 4:2 and Deut 12:32] only prohibit adding to or removing from the specific books in which they are found, like the warning at the end of Revelation. If Deut prohibited adding to the Scriptures, period, then nothing should have been written after Deuteronomy.

Alex: Your interpretation is not so plausible. Let us see what these texts say:

Deuteronomy 4:2
“Ye shall not add unto the word which I command you, neither shall ye diminish ought from it, that ye may keep the commandments of the LORD your God which I command you.”

Deuteronomy 12:32
“What thing soever I command you, observe to do it: thou shalt not add thereto, nor diminish from it.”

Alex: Most commentators understand that this involves the whole of God's Law because these texts are in the context of the Mosaic Law or Torah: they were understood as divine commands that should be obeyed by God's people. I believe that such interpretation is most plausible. God explicitly speaks of any given divine command ("What thing soever," "the commandments of the LORD," and "the word which I command you") and not specifically about some particular book. However, even if we understood as you do, notice that the book in question is the Book of Deuteronomy, the Book of Second Law, which is a part of the Torah or the Law. As such, it is understood that it should be obeyed by God's people. Anyway, from the principle of caution, it is more prudent to interpret these particular God's commands as legally binding for Christians as well.

Adomnan: If Deut prohibited adding to the Scriptures, period, then nothing should have been written after Deuteronomy.

Alex: These texts say about what God states and commands. In other words, it is about God's words given by God's prophets and apostles. Thus, it does not exclude further revelations and writings given by God's prophets.

PREVIOUS ALEX: The foundation of the Church is the infallible word given by God's prophets and apostles (Eph 2:20).

Adomnan: The infallible word of God is passed down down in both writtten and oral form, the latter especially in the case of the apostles. You are assuming, quite wrongly, that God's word is only the written word. Since when are words only written?

Alex: Look carefully how I argue. My argument is not question begging because the premise (2) does not assume that God's word is only in the written form. The same holds for the premise (3). I certainly hold the view that we had oral charismatic traditions before Christ, but that these were not written and preserved in the Canon of Holy Scriptures. The same holds for orally given prophetic revelations in the apostolic period. The issue is whether all these oral traditions were preserved in any other forms not included in the canon of Holy Scriptures. I believe that these oral traditions were not preserved, and, therefore, we are left only with the Canon of Holy Scriptures. Consequently, we have the truth of Sola Scriptura.

So, the issue is whether the oral traditions were preserved or not.

I think that it is obvious that oral traditions that were not preserved in the canon, but were preserved in other writings, such as the Book of Enoch, are not completely infallibly reliable. So, the only infallible reliable authority we are left with is the Canon of the Holy Scriptures.

So, I do not deny that there were writings containing some of these oral traditions. But it is obvious that these are not most reliable, for otherwise they would be included in the canon.

Kind regards,
Alex

Adomnan said...

Alex: Your interpretation is not so plausible. Let us see what these texts say:

Deuteronomy 4:2
“Ye shall not add unto the word which I command you, neither shall ye diminish ought from it, that ye may keep the commandments of the LORD your God which I command you.”

Adomnan: Alex, you left out Deuteronomy 4:1, which says "And now, Israel, listen to the laws and customs which I am teaching you TODAY, so that, by observing them, you may survive to enter and take possession of the country which Yahweh, God of your ancestors, is giving you." The "today" indicates that the writer is speaking of the laws and customs actually laid out in Deuteronomy. Why did you leave that out?

Alex: Deuteronomy 12:32
“What thing soever I command you, observe to do it: thou shalt not add thereto, nor diminish from it.”

Adomnan: My version (Jerusalem Bible) reads for this verse: "Whatever I am NOW commanding you, you must keep and observe, adding nothing to it, taking nothing away." So, as with the other verse, the writer is limiting God's injunction not to add or take away to Deuteronomy alone ("whatever I am NOW commanding...").

Alex: Most commentators understand that this involves the whole of God's Law because these texts are in the context of the Mosaic Law or Torah.

Adomnan: Oh, is there an objective statistical survey of commentators out there? If so, where can we find it? Or are you talking about commentators that you favor, who would in many cases carry no weight with us Catholics, especially if they are fundamentalist Protestants of some sort.

Besides, your whole argument makes no sense, because it is obvious that Jesus Himself added to and took away from the Torah. After all, we Christians don't practice circumcision, Jewish food laws, Jewish holy days, sacrifices, and the many prohibitions about clothing and other such things commandeed in the Torah, do we? That's because they were "taken away."

You're not a Seventh Day Adventist, an observer of the Jewish Law, are you? If so, let us know now, because I won't debate SDAers. Maybe someone else will.

Alex: I believe that such interpretation is most plausible.

Adomnan: And I believe that my interpretation is most plausible.

Alex: However, even if we understood as you do, notice that the book in question is the Book of Deuteronomy, the Book of Second Law, which is a part of the Torah or the Law. As such, it is understood that it should be obeyed by God's people.

Adomnan: Yes, by the Jews, God's people at that time. Jesus Christ made the Jewish Law obsolete.

Alex: Anyway, from the principle of caution, it is more prudent to interpret these particular God's commands as legally binding for Christians as well.

Adomnan: On the contrary, prudence would induce us to obey the Church founded by Jesus Christ on the rock of Peter, which is the Catholic Church under the papacy.

You're sounding more and more like a Seventh Day Adventist.

Alex: These texts say about what God states and commands. In other words, it is about God's words given by God's prophets and apostles. Thus, it does not exclude further revelations and writings given by God's prophets.

Adomnan: This is muddled. At first you claimed that Deuteronomy prohibited adding any more commands, period. Now you seem to be saying that new commands and/or revelation is okay provided it comes from "God's prophets." But by saying this, you're undermining your initial contention that these verses from Deuteromony rule out further revelation. If new revelation came after Deut, then obviously Deut didn't prohibit "adding" new material to God's word, as you said at first. It just prohibited adding to Deuteronomy. You can't prohibit additions and permit them at the same time.

Adomnan said...

Alex: I certainly hold the view that we had oral charismatic traditions before Christ, but that these were not written and preserved in the Canon of Holy Scriptures.

Adomnan: And where's the proof of that? You "hold that view," and I hold the view that we also had oral traditions after Christ, and these were preserved in the apostolic, Catholic church.

By the way, the Old Testament oral traditions were largely preserved as well, by the Jews. They are what the Jews call "the oral Torah."

Alex:I think that it is obvious that oral traditions that were not preserved in the canon, but were preserved in other writings, such as the Book of Enoch, are not completely infallibly reliable. So, the only infallible reliable authority we are left with is the Canon of the Holy Scriptures.

Adomnan: No, the magisterium (teaching authority) of the Catholic Church is an infallible authority. I don't think it's proper to called the Bible, although it is inspired and inerrant, an "infallible authority," because the words "infallible" and "authority" are properly used only of persons, not texts. You can say Paul is an authority, but it's poor English to call, say, the Epistle to the Galatians an authority. People are authorities, not books. Speaking otherwise is redolent of animism. It tends to suggest that inanimate objects like books are alive, can speak, etc. which promotes superstition and idolatry.

Alex: So, I do not deny that there were writings containing some of these oral traditions. But it is obvious that these are not most reliable, for otherwise they would be included in the canon.

Adomnan: The Church decides what's in the canon and so must have infallible teachers if she has established an infallible canon.

In any event, you are confusing infallibilty and inspiration. Bishops assembled in ecumenical councils under the authority of the papacy are collectively infallible, but their decrees are not included in the canon of scripture.

And if you say that we should include these decrees in the canon of scripture given that they're without error, I'd just reply that it's the magisterium that determines what writings will be read as a part of the liturgy, which is all the canon is. It's not up to you or me to decide.

Kalkas said...

Hello Adomnan

Previous Alex: I certainly hold the view that we had oral charismatic traditions before Christ, but that these were not written and preserved in the Canon of Holy Scriptures.

Adomnan: And where's the proof of that? You "hold that view," ...

Alex: Proof of what exactly? Don't you realize that the view I talk about is something that is endorsed by Roman Catholic scholars? What I say is that I agree with the Roman Catholic position concerning oral traditions, namely that we had oral traditions both before and after Christ. Please read more carefully and be fair in our discussion. At least I try to find some common elements that we both can agree on.

Adomnan: ... and I hold the view that we also had oral traditions after Christ, and these were preserved in the apostolic, Catholic church.

Alex: As I said, I do not dispute that there were oral traditions. The issue is how reliable are other writings that give some testimony of oral apostolic teachings.

Previous Alex: I think that it is obvious that oral traditions that were not preserved in the canon, but were preserved in other writings, such as the Book of Enoch, are not completely infallibly reliable. So, the only infallible reliable authority we are left with is the Canon of the Holy Scriptures.

Adomnan: No, the magisterium (teaching authority) of the Catholic Church is an infallible authority.

Alex: We talk about oral traditions that were present in the first century and not about Catholic councils from the fourth century and upwards. We talk about oral teachings of the Apostles, what they spoke, and not about councils that argued about the interpretation of apostolic writings. It is obvious that oral apostolic teachings, those not included in the canon, were not completely and reliably preserved in other writings, for otherwise they would have been included in the canon. (This should be obvious for it is almost a tautological formulation; that is exactly what I argued in my last reply, but it seems that you have not understood this obvious point). Do you see my point now? By the way, please do not come with question begging premises. You are certainly free to hold your view about the infallibility of the Magisterium, but this is not the same as to establish it as true in a discussion with a non-Catholic. I try, at least, to come with premises that we could both agree on. The point is that we should operate with non question-begging premises. So far, you have not done so.

My next post, right after this one, is concerned with the question of the formation of the NT Canon.

Kind regards,
Aleksandar

Kalkas said...

Hello Adomnan

Adomnan: The Church decides what's in the canon and so must have infallible teachers if she has established an infallible canon.

Alex: Yes, that's the Catholic position concerning the canon. However, it seems that you are not familiar with the non-Catholic view, for otherwise you would not come with such a question-begging statement in our discussion. Here follows a non-Catholic perspective of the formation of the NT Canon. This would not constitute as an argument, but merely to show that there are equally other plausible alternative perspectives.

A non-Catholic, such as J. I. Packer would say, "the church no more gave us the New Testament canon than Sir Isaac Newton gave us the force of gravity. God gave us gravity, by his work of creation, and similarly he gave us the New Testament canon, by inspiring the individual books that make it up." [J. I. Packer, God Speaks To Man, p. 81] The point is that the books written by the apostles and prophets were rather recognized as such. Recognized by whom? They were recognized by the early Christian communities. How? They were recognized in the virtue of their authorship. This recognition had further enabled that these apostolic and prophetic writings be widely circulated and used in the early Christian services. Those writings that were suspect was not much circulated and less used.

Thus, according to the non-Catholic perspective, "the Church did not originate the Bible. Its inspiration is divine, not ecclesiastical. Moreover, any official action of the Church is late. We do not find it before the last part of the fourth century. But by then the canon had to all its intents and purposes been decided." [Leon Morris, "Canon of the New Testament," in The Encyclopedia of Christianity, volume 2, edited by G.G. Cohen, Marshallton, Delaware: The National Foundation for Christian Education, 1968, 337.]

Stephen Voorwinde makes an interesting observation concerning conciliar decisions:
"The wording of the conciliar decisions is also significant here. The decrees are never in the form: 'This council decrees that henceforth such and such books are to be canonical.' The Church never attempted to confer canonicity. The Church did not give authority to the canon, rather it recognized its authority. Hence the conciliar decrees have the form: 'This council declares that these are the books which have always been held to be canonical.' It would therefore be truer to say that the canon selected itself than that the Church selected it. Canonicity is something in the book itself, something that God has given to it, not a favoured status that the Church confers upon it." [Stephen Voorwinde, "The Formation of the New Testament Canon," from http://www.bible-researcher.com/voorwinde1.html ].

More about such non-Catholic view of the canon, please consult the following links:

http://www.blueletterbible.org/faq/canon.cfm

http://www.carm.org/religious-movements/roman-catholicism/did-roman-catholic-church-give-us-our-bible

Kind regards,
Aleksandar

Randy said...

The analogy to the law of gravity is flawed. Scientific theories are inherently empirical. They exxist because they are useful in predicting experimental results. The moment something more useful comes along then that theory is discarded.

The canon is nothing like that. It cannot be checked empirically. It is revelation from God. One can empirically recognize people's opinion about the cannon but that presupposes that a strong consensus of human opinion is the basis for the canon. That could be right but you need to state that as the real foundation of the canon.

The problem with the consensus theory is twofold. One problem is that other consensus existed. For example, a consensus developed around apostolic succesion. Why is that consensus not an accurate reflection of God's mind when the canon is?

The second problem is the 66 book canon didn't actually have a consensus. The Catholic canon was the normal one. One might argue that there were a few supporters of the 66 book canon but one could hardly argue it was the common view. In fact, saying there were no supporters at all of the 66 book canon is quite a defensible view.

Kalkas said...

Hello Adomnan

In the last reply, I gave the non-catholic perspective on the formation of the NT Canon, just that you are aware of the fact that there are other equally plausible views on the canonicity of the Bible. However, I have not completely answered your question-begging statement of your previous reply.

You said: "The Church decides what's in the canon and so must have infallible teachers if she has established an infallible canon."

Previous post dealt with the first part of your dubious statement, namely the part where you contend, "The Church decides what's in the canon." In your argumentation, the first part of your statement acts as a premise, (and a question-begging premise at that, given that there are equally other plausible views about the formation of the NT Canon).

In this post, we will deal with the second part of your contention: "... and so must have infallible teachers if she has established an infallible canon." It acts as the conclusion of the first part.

I will make two notes about your statement above.

First, the premise is disputable given my previous reply, and as such, your conclusion is not established.

Second, let us assume for the sake of argument that your premise is true, i.e. "the Church decided what should be counted as the NT Canon." Would your conclusion likewise flow from your premise? No, it would not for the following reason:

There is no need of infallible teachers that would provide an infallible interpretation of God's revelation, but only men of prophetic and apostolic authority that gave us the holy writings inspired by infallible God. The point is that it is sufficient to have only an infallible agent in the process of guiding the Church in her understanding of God's revelation, namely God Himself. The analogy below will illustrate the fallacy of your argument.

Can you not guide a blind man to cross the street? Would not the blind man cross the street with your sight and help? The same can be asked of God's infallible guidance of the fallible Church. God is surely omnipotent or almighty to guide His fallible people.

However, according to the form of your argument, you state that a man who is not blind cannot guide a blind man. You require that the blind man must have a capacity of sight in order to be guided because you say the same thing for the Church, namely that it must be infallible ("to have a capacity of sight") in order to be guided by God ("to be guided to cross the street by a man who is not blind").

Third, your statement is similar to Maroun's. He objected to my view about the fallibility of any Church tradition in the post-apostolic period, by asking me the following question:

"So a fallible church gave you an infallible bible?"

I will clarify my previous answer.

When talking about "fallibility of the Church," I do understand this only in a technical sense: Church that lacks infallible interpreters. So, yes, a Roman Catholic is right when he says that "a fallible Church" cannot produce an infallible Bible. But why suppose that the post-apostolic Church of the second century and upwards produced the infallible Bible? It was the Prophets of the Old Testament and the Apostles of the apostolic Church of the first century that produced the infallible Bible for obvious reason that prophets and apostles were the infallible interpreters as well. It was only in the OT times and in the first century of the NT times that there were people with infallible prophetic and apostolic authority.

Kind regards,
Aleksandar

Kalkas said...

Hello Randy

Randy: The analogy to the law of gravity is flawed. Scientific theories are inherently empirical. They exxist because they are useful in predicting experimental results. The moment something more useful comes along then that theory is discarded.

Alex: The point with the analogy is that physical laws, however they are understood, are given by God by His act of creation. Surely, you should have understood it as such.

Randy: The canon is nothing like that. It cannot be checked empirically. It is revelation from God.

Alex: If the Canon is a revelation from God, is it not experienced and witnessed?

“That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes , which we have looked upon , and our hands have handled, of the Word of life;” (1 John 1:1)

It is highly empirical as that. Christianity is not an esoteric mystic religion, but highly situated in this empirical world by a God who is the God of History and Communication. He is not a deist god, but an active God in our empirical world, and who even experienced the vulnerable human nature when He bodily died on the cross.

Randy: One can empirically recognize people's opinion about the cannon but that presupposes that a strong consensus of human opinion is the basis for the canon. That could be right but you need to state that as the real foundation of the canon.

Alex: This applies for all aspects of our human affairs. Ultimately it depends on what we choose to believe, for there are various consensuses in our multicultural society, and sometimes we are confronted to choose which consensus to accept: Evolutionist vs. Creationist, Atheist vs Theist, etc. The point is that in our western society, we have large groups of people operating within different kinds of paradigms. However, I do not hold to the Consensus Theory of Truth, but that the formation of our beliefs depends, among many things, on some consensus. And that's why we discuss right now. I belong to another tradition of consensus than you do.

This means that either one of our consensus is true, or that none is true. After all, Christianity might be a false religion and that Jesus' bodily resurrection is a myth. (I certainly do not endorse such view, because I believe in Christ's bodily death and resurrection and that He was God manifest in the human flesh.) That's why we must question our traditions and put them under test in order to verify/falsify them.

Randy: The problem with the consensus theory is twofold. One problem is that other consensus existed. For example, a consensus developed around apostolic succesion. Why is that consensus not an accurate reflection of God's mind when the canon is?

Alex: Well, from my hermeneutic standpoint, the consensus around apostolic succesion has not enough biblical evidence. Here it is not question-begging to appeal to the Bible, even though we discuss the nature of the formation of the NT Canon, because the Bible is our common indisputable ground that we can both appeal to.

Now, concerning the question of which canon is the right one, whether we should include the OT apocrypha or not, I would say that there are very good reason why they should be rejected, reasons that I am sure you have heard in your numerous discussions with Protestants :-)

So, let us not dwell much in this issue, which is quite a different one and logically independent of the real issue here. The real issue is whether the Catholic Church through her councils established the Canon. I can even accept the Catholic apocrypha, but disagree on the view that the Catholic councils gave us the canon.

Kind regards,
Aleksandar

Adomnan said...

Alex: Proof of what exactly? Don't you realize that the view I talk about is something that is endorsed by Roman Catholic scholars?

Adomnan: Alex,you're losing me here. Not proof that "we had oral charismatic traditions before Christ," which I certainly agree with. I'm looking for proof that "these were not written and preserved in the Canon of Holy Scriptures." That's where we disagree. Some of them were and some of them weren't.

You also seem to be implying that "oral charismatic traditions" that were not included in someone's "canon" are irretrievably lost. We disagree on this, too. The Holy Spirit can preserve these truths whether they are written in canonical documents or not.

Alex: The issue is how reliable are other writings that give some testimony of oral apostolic teachings.

Adomnan: There are many "reliable" writings from the early Church that testify to oral apostolic teachings. Something can be reliable, of course, without being inspired After all, you probably consider what you're writing on this blog to be reliable, but I doubt that you consider it inspired or infallible; and you would not ask us to include it in the canon. You appear to be conflating mere reliability with inspiration and infallibility.

Alex: It is obvious that oral apostolic teachings, those not included in the canon, were not completely and reliably preserved in other writings, for otherwise they would have been included in the canon.

Adomnan: It's not obvious at all. There were unquestionably apostolic oral traditions included in the writings of Clement, Ignatius and Justin, to name just three. No Catholic thinks there is anything false in any of these early Church Fathers. But we Catholics have not included their writings in our canon. Therefore, it is prima facie evident that apostolic oral traditions were preserved, as you put it, in "other writings" and yet these writings were not included in the canon by the Catholic Church (the only authority able to set up a canon). So your "obvious" assertion is refuted by the facts.

Adomnan said...

Alex: (This should be obvious for it is almost a tautological formulation; that is exactly what I argued in my last reply, but it seems that you have not understood this obvious point).

Adomnan: You seem to be trying to preclude a priori the existence of early "reliable" records of apostolic traditions by using some sort of odd logic. But these texts actually do exist, a simple fact that refutes your irrefutable logic.

Alex: Do you see my point now?

Adomnan: No.

Well, I guess I see what you're trying to say -- that if there were "reliable" written records of apostolic teachings, they would have been included in the canon; and since they weren't included, there were ipso facto no reliable records -- but your assertion here is contradicted by the existence of reliable records of apostotic tradition that are not in fact in the canon. Sorry to upset your "theory" with the facts, but there it is.

Alex: By the way, please do not come with question begging premises. You are certainly free to hold your view about the infallibility of the Magisterium, but this is not the same as to establish it as true in a discussion with a non-Catholic.

Adomnan: But your formulations are entirely a matter of question begging. You simply assume that the written word of God is the only "infalliable authority." You don't prove it at all.

Well, then, I can posit that the papacy is infallible, and I don't have to prove it either. Why can't I do what you're doing? That's only fair.

And you make plenty of other bald assertions with no proof, such as your baseless insistence that there are no early "reliable" written records of apostolic traditions outside of the canon.

Alex: I try, at least, to come with premises that we could both agree on.

Adomnan: That's very kind of you, I'm sure. But it's the premises that we DON'T agree on that present a problem, isn't it?

Ben M said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Adomnan said...

Alex: it seems that you are not familiar with the non-Catholic view,

Adomnan: Oh, there's only one non-Catholic view? Yours?

Alex: A non-Catholic, such as J. I. Packer would say, "the church no more gave us the New Testament canon than Sir Isaac Newton gave us the force of gravity. God gave us gravity, by his work of creation, and similarly he gave us the New Testament canon, by inspiring the individual books that make it up." [J. I. Packer, God Speaks To Man, p. 81]

Adomnan: Frankly, this is absurd. A canon,as the word itself, which means "a rule" suggests, is simply a list of books that the Church authorizes to be read during the liturgy. It is true that all the books on this list are inspired, but that does not imply that all inspired books are in the canon. For example, St. Paul wrote letters of doctrinal instruction that that are lost. Since St. Paul wrote them, they were inspired. But they're evidently not included in the canon, being lost.

Moreover, it is not true to say that every book outside of the biblcial canon is, ipso facto, uninspired. The Catholic Church does not restrict divine inspiration to the books of the canon.

Once again, the books of the canon are, by definition, those inspired books that are authorized to be read in the liturgy.

Alex: The point is that the books written by the apostles and prophets were rather recognized as such.

Adomnan: Many of the books in the canon were not written by either apostles or prophets.

Alex: Recognized by whom? They were recognized by the early Christian communities.

Adomnan: They were recognized by the leaders of those early Christian communities, the bishops, successors of the apostles.

Alex: They were recognized in the virtue of their authorship.

Adomnan: Authorship? But not all New Testament writings were authored by apostles. And Ignatius and Polycarp had as close a link to St. John as Mark and Luke did to Sts. Peter and Paul. Clement knew both Peter and Paul. So, if Mark and Luke qualified for the canon based on their acquaintance with apostles, then why do not the writings of Ignatius, Polycarp and Clement qualify on the basis of authorship?

No, whatever the basis for the canon was, it wasn't "authorship."

But your theory -- that authorship was paramount -- would imply that Paul's lost letters would have been canonical, if they had been preserved.

Adomnan said...

Alex: This recognition had further enabled that these apostolic and prophetic writings be widely circulated and used in the early Christian services.

Adomnan: Actually, it was mostly use by major churches, particularly the infallible church at Rome, that formed the basis for canonizing certain books.

Alex: Thus, according to the non-Catholic perspective, "the Church did not originate the Bible. Its inspiration is divine, not ecclesiastical."

Adomnan: I disagree. The inspiration of individual books was divine, but their selection into a canon -- "the Bible" -- was ecclesiastical. You are wrongly assuming that all divinely inspired texts would necessarily end up in the canon somehow, so that there was no real selection by the Church. That's not true. Paul's lost letters were divinely inspired, but are obviously not in the canon, for example. The epistle of Clement to the Corinthians also claimed divine inspiration (which I would certainly accord it), but is not included in the canon either.

Besides, there is no way for us to know whether a writing is inspired or not unless an infallible authority informs us. Therefore, we can only say the books of the Bible -- the New Testament at least -- are inspired because the
Church chose to include them in the canon. Jesus confirmed the inspiration of some of the Old Testament writings.

Given that the Church is utterly free to select what inspired books she will include in her canon, it follows that the canon is entirely ecclesiastical. Inspiration is from God, but the Church determines the canon.

Alex, from Leon Morris: "Moreover, any official action of the Church is late. We do not find it before the last part of the fourth century. But by then the canon had to all its intents and purposes been decided."

Adomnan: Ah, but the canon had "to all its intents and purposes been decided" in those earlier centuries by whom? By the bishops of the principal churches. So, it was "official action" that decided the canon, both early and "late." Who else would have decided, if not the bishops? They didn't take a vote.

Adomnan said...

Alex, quoting Voorwinde: "Hence the conciliar decrees have the form: 'This council declares that these are the books which have always been held to be canonical.'"

Adomnan: Actually, I believe they usually have the form "these are the books that have always been read in the church of Rome, church of Alexandria, etc." That is, the councils affirm that certain books have been held to be canonical by authoritative churches. They derive the canon from the authority of the churches that use it.

Alex, from Voorwinde again: "It would therefore be truer to say that the canon selected itself than that the Church selected it."

Adomnan: This is an example of that superstition I referred to earlier that comes from animating inanimate objects like books. Of course, books don't "select themselves;" people -- in this case Church authorities -- select them.

The authority of the canon and our awareness of its inspiration depend entirely on the authority of the Church. No authoritative Church implies no authoritative canon.

Frankly, there are many parts of the Bible that I would not consider inspired unless the Church told me they were (e.g., Chronicles, Esther, Ecclesiastes, and the Book of Revelation -- the latter is very interesting but strikes me -- as it did Luther, by the way -- as confused). I only know these books are inspired because the Church tells me. I don't get any "burnin' in the bosom" when I read them, nor, I think, does any person who is honest with himself.

Voorwinde: "Canonicity is something in the book itself, something that God has given to it, not a favoured status that the Church confers upon it."

Adomnan: Nope. The canon is the list of books the Church selects to be read in her services.

How can being on the Church's list, which is all that "canonicity" means, not be a matter of the Church's selection? Doesn't the Church make its own lists? So, yes, canonicity is a favored status conferred on a book by the Church, the favored status of being read during the liturgy.

Don't forget; that's all that a canonical book is: A book that is read in the liturgy. First comes the liturgy; the canon comes only after the liturgy as a function (or part) of the liturgy. No liturgy, no canon. And the liturgy is the Church's creation; thus, so is the canon. (Christ gave us the basic form of the Liturgy of the Eucharist, to which the Apostles added certain prayers. But the liturgy of the word includes readings, and the choice of those readings were what gave rise to the canon.)

Adomnan said...

Alex, I read your post about the blind man, but it is really too peculiar and irrelevant an analogy to have any application. Ordinary Christians aren't blind. However, they need guidance to avoid error.

Any fanatic can claim God is guiding him, and all do. In a faith based on revelation, we have to be able to know what God revealed, and that means not only knowing His words, but understanding/correctly interpreting them. A reading of God's word that may be mistaken is not a divine revelation. In order for God's word to be God's word, it must have an authoritative, infallible interpreter.

Otherwise, you don't have divine revelation, who just have opinions about the meanings of disputed texts.

Adomnan said...

Alex: It was only in the OT times and in the first century of the NT times that there were people with infallible prophetic and apostolic authority.

Adomnan: That's your assumption. We reject it. Why should so much of God's grace have been poured out in the first century, only to dry up later so that now we have nothing but this intermittent trickle? This amounts to an argument that Christianity isn't true: It was powerful and effective and infallible then, but now it's just a muddle.

Isn't Jesus Christ just as alive today as He was in the first century?

And what is more astounding is that you make God's activity through OT prophets more real, direct and powerful then than now that Christ reigns! God was revealing himself daily back then, and now all we have is a distant, fading echo of His Word in texts whose meaning no one can declare with any certainty.

If I didn't believe there was a durable and present apostolic authority in the Church, I wouldn't be a Christian at all. And, no, the Bible cannot be that "authority," because the Bible is a text, not a person. Everyone can interpret the Bible as he sees fit if there is no infallible, apostolic guide -- and that is what all the heretics do, all claiming to have gotten it right as every fanatic always has claimed.

Believe me, if I were inclined to make up my own Christianity out of the Bible, it wouldn't look anything like yours!

Adomnan said...

Alex: J. I. Packer said, "the church no more gave us the New Testament canon than Sir Isaac Newton gave us the force of gravity. God gave us gravity, by his work of creation, and similarly he gave us the New Testament canon, by inspiring the individual books that make it up." [J. I. Packer, God Speaks To Man, p. 81]

Adomnan: I already more or less commented on this. But, reading it again, it struck me what an inept analogy it is.

It is true that the law of gravity is inherent in creation. However, we would have remained ignorant of it unless Isaac Newton had discovered it. Therefore, we only know the law of gravity and can use it for technology and invention and draw further scientific conclusions from it because it was discovered and formulated by Newton.

By the same token, if God inspired certain books, we would have no way of knowing what they were and of using them (in the liturgy and for theological enlightenment) if the Church had not identified them for us.

So, actually Packer's analogy, properly understood. underscores the Church's crucial role in formulating the canon. Without that role, the inspired books, like the unknown law of gravity, would have remained unknown and useless to us.

Adomnan said...

Correction: This final paragraph, two postings up, reads: "Otherwise, you don't have divine revelation, who just have opinions about the meanings of disputed texts."

It should read: "Otherwise, you don't have divine revelation, YOU just have, etc."

Dave Armstrong said...

For the record, I went on vacation the day before this whole exchange started.

Now that it has attained great length. I would note that I am too busy to get into all this, anyway (at least today), am fairly bored with the topic (having written more on it by far than anything else), have answered most objections elsewhere already, and that others are effectively answering. They don't argue everything in the way I would (of course), but I think they are doing a good job.

To Kalkas:

What is your religious affiliation, and do you think the Catholic Church can be considered a Christian entity just as Protestants and Orthodox are? Can one be a good Catholic and be saved, or does one have to necessarily deny various Catholic tenets in order to be saved?

Dave Armstrong said...

How can you know that the Roman Catholic Tradition is the true one, especially seen in the light of its dark history of inquisition and murder of heretics, wars, etc? Did not Jesus tell us that we should pray for our enemies and bless those who hate us?

The "argument" from past sins and skeletons in the closet proves nothing, as I have argued for years. See my entire web page, set up for this purpose:

Historic Protestant Persecution & Intolerance

http://socrates58.blogspot.com/2006/11/protestantism-index-page.html

Randy said...

This is getting long. I replied on my blog.

http://ephesians4-15.blogspot.com/2010/06/canon-and-consensus.html

BTW, I had an unfortunate incident on my old blog so I had to start a new one. You might want to change any links becuase the old one does not work at all.

http://ephesians4-15.blogspot.com

Dave Armstrong said...

For the second time (to bring this to the top of my comments):

To Kalkas:

What is your religious affiliation, and do you think the Catholic Church can be considered a Christian entity just as Protestants and Orthodox are? Can one be a good Catholic and be saved, or does one have to necessarily deny various Catholic tenets in order to be saved?

Dave Armstrong said...

However, we do not have any more prophets and apostles because their foundational ministries were fulfilled with the completion of the canon of the Holy Scriptures.

Where does such a notion come from? I see nothing in Scripture itself that suggests there is some magical line where Scripture is completed; therefore binding apostolic authority ceases. To the contrary, when Judas defected, a successor was chosen (Matthias), showing that apostolic succession was to be in perpetuity. And this is, of course, what the Church Fathers held. It didn't get overthrown till the arbitrary Protestant Revolution 15 centuries later.

You have made Scripture the only binding, infallible authority (though Scripture never teaches that either -- making this position radically circular). Now you come up with yet another extra-biblical notion and make it the centerpiece of your authority and rule of faith, which is doubly absurd.

Either this idea of a completed Scriptures nullifying apostolic and ecclesial authority is in the Bible or not. If it is, please show me where it is: I have never seen it.

If it isn't, then you have again defeated your own position (a phenomenon that is rampant in sola Scriptura), by adopting a view that is entirely unbiblical in the cause of sola Scriptura: the principle that holds that only Scripture is binding and infallible. Thus, if this principle is not in the Bible, it is no more binding than anything else, and I have no particular (let alone compelling) reason to adopt it as my central principle of authority. It's radically self-defeating and circular. It's absurd.

Consequently, there is no such apostolic binding authority, except the one found in the Scriptures.

Again: where is this notion found? By your own premises and sola Scriptura itself, if it isn't in the Bible, then it has no force of authority, and certainly no binding, infallible force. It's simply a tradition of men: a thing you have yourself already condemned. Radical circularity abounds . . .

Show me where this idea is found in the Bible. It may be there somewhere that I have overlooked, but I've never seen it, and I have written reams and reams of stuff about this whole topic and have replied to almost every conceivable argument in favor of SS.

Kalkas said...

Hello Adomnan

In my previous post, I said: "It is obvious that oral apostolic teachings, those not included in the canon, were not completely and reliably preserved in other writings, for otherwise they would have been included in the canon."

It seems that you have not understood what I am saying here, because you said the following.

Adomnan: "There were unquestionably apostolic oral traditions included in the writings of Clement, Ignatius and Justin, to name just three. No Catholic thinks there is anything false in any of these early Church Fathers."

When I talk about oral tradition, in this context, I am talking about the teachings and words of infallible and prophetic character. The apostolic teachings, whether in oral or written form, have this prophetic character. The question is whether these oral teachings are preserved in reliable books outside of the canon. I used the term "reliable" in the sense of knowing for sure that other writings containing some of the oral apostolic teachings are infallible. However, I concede that my use of "reliable" it could be misunderstood. I do grant that much of what Church Fathers teach is good. Nevertheless, can we accept these writings as infallible? If we can accept these as infallible, should they not be included in the canon? If they are infallible, they should surely be included in the canon. The canon, per definition, includes books considered as holy and infallible in the virtue of being God's words. Church Fathers, among themselves, did not considered their writings as infallible, and neither should we.

Considering the question of the formation of the canon, I simply shared a non-Catholic perspective only because to show that the Roman Catholic theory has no monopoly on its answer. It was not meant to be as an argument, for otherwise it would be a question-begging indeed. It is just an alternative to the Roman Catholic one. Whether it is true, that's another question, which, strictly speaking, is a different issue.

Kind regards,
Alex

Kalkas said...

Hello Dave Armstrong

You asked the following question:

"What is your religious affiliation, and do you think the Catholic Church can be considered a Christian entity just as Protestants and Orthodox are? Can one be a good Catholic and be saved, or does one have to necessarily deny various Catholic tenets in order to be saved?"

I am not a Protestant, but rather belong to an Anabaptist Brethren tradition. Anabaptists were heavily persecuted by Protestants during the Reformation. I do not consider the Roman Catholic Church, the Orthodox Church and various State oriented Protestant Churches (Lutheran, Anglican and similar) as true representative bodies of Christ. Nevertheless, I think that a spiritual, sincere, Catholic who has fruits of the Spirit can be saved, provided that such person worships only God, i.e. does not engage in the cult of saints. It is not the membership of some church that saves, but rather the personal relation we have to Christ. That's my Anabaptist view speaking here.

Kind regards,
Aleksandar

Kalkas said...

Hello Dave Armstrong

I think that my question still needs an answer concerning the Roman Catholic persecutions. To repreat: How can you know that the Roman Catholic Tradition is the true one, especially seen in the light of its dark history of inquisition and murder of heretics, wars, etc? Did not Jesus tell us that we should pray for our enemies and bless those who hate us?

I fail to see how your web site answers this question, when it deals mostly with Protestant sins. I am not a Protestant. I am a Bible believing follower of Christ who respects Christ's command with regard to persecutions.

Kind regards,
Aleksandar

Kalkas said...

Hello Dave Armstrong,

I said: "However, we do not have any more prophets and apostles because their foundational ministries were fulfilled with the completion of the canon of the Holy Scriptures."

Your question: "Where does such a notion come from? I see nothing in Scripture itself that suggests there is some magical line where Scripture is completed; therefore binding apostolic authority ceases. To the contrary, when Judas defected, a successor was chosen (Matthias), showing that apostolic succession was to be in perpetuity. And this is, of course, what the Church Fathers held. It didn't get overthrown till the arbitrary Protestant Revolution 15 centuries later."

First, the term "apostolic succession" is misleading, because it would suggest that the pope and cardinals would be apostles. But they are not, for otherwise they would have the signs of apostles, cf. 2 Cor 12:12.

Second, the term "apostle" in its narrow sense applies to a Prime Witness of Christ's bodily resurrection. Consequently, we could only have apostles in the period when it was possible to be a witness of Christ's bodily resurrection, i.e. the first century.

See more about this on the following page:

http://free-brethren.net/charisma.html#apostle

Third, could you please explain why would the election of Matthias teach about apostolic succession, when you had at least 70 apostles who were contemporaries with Peter and John the Apostles?

Kind regards,
Aleksandar

Kalkas said...

Hello Adomnan

Alex: The point is that the books written by the apostles and prophets were rather recognized as such.

Adomnan: Many of the books in the canon were not written by either apostles or prophets.

Which books of the Bible were not written by either a prophet or an an apostle?

Kind regards,
Aleksandar

Adomnan said...

Alex: When I talk about oral tradition, in this context, I am talking about the teachings and words of infallible and prophetic character. The apostolic teachings, whether in oral or written form, have this prophetic character.

Adomnan: We probably wouldn't call the oral traditions "infallible and prophetic." I wouldn't call them "infallible," because, as I said before, I am reluctant to call even scripture infallible. I prefer to call scripture "inerrant" and the oral traditions "true." Infallibility is a characteristic of persons, as I see it. The apostles were infallible; their oral traditions are true.

Secondly, rather than saying oral traditions were "prophetic," I would say they were "apostolic."

In any event, you seem to be trying to make your point by restricting yourself (and me) to the use of certain words and then drawing unwarrented conclusions from these words. I suggest you look at the reality -- that is, oral traditions were apostolic and true -- and avoid obsessing over particular words that may or may not apply ("infallible" and "prophetic").

At base, I'm not interested in a merely semantic argument (one about words), but in the truth of the mstter. If oral traditions are apostolic and true, they don't need to be "prophetic and infallible."

Alex: Nevertheless, can we accept these writings as infallible?

Adomnan: Clement was certainly infallible because he was the successor of Peter as Rock of the Church, holding an office later called the papacy. And, as you know, we Catholics consider the Pope to be infallible when speaking from the throne of Peter on matters of faith and morals.

Personally, I also believe that Ignatius was infallible, given his close relationship with the Beloved Disciple and the shining orthodoxy and inspiration of his surviving letters. He was fully vested with the truth. I personally believe that Irenaeus was infallible as well, as a Catholic bishop with a firm grasp of the apostolic tradition. I certainly don't find any error in his writings. However, that's my view, and I would not impose it on others.

Alex: If we can accept these as infallible, should they not be included in the canon? If they are infallible, they should surely be included in the canon.

Adomnan: Not at all. The implication of your statement is that any writing that is not included in the canon must contain errors, because if it had no errors it would be in the canon. However, there are many error-free texts that are not canonical. Besides, you are confusing inspiration and canonicity. The Church has never said that no books outside the canon are inspired. She only teaches that all the books in the canon are inspired.

Canonical books are simply those inspired books that the Church authorizes to be read as part of the liturgy.

Adomnan said...

Alex: Church Fathers, among themselves, did not considered their writings as infallible, and neither should we.

Adomnan: Certainly Church Fathers who were also Popes considered their pronouncements ex cathedra Petri (as we say) to be infallible.

Aside from that, it's no more possible to determine whether Ignatius, say, considered his writings to be infallible than it is to determine whether John or Paul did. I think all of these men spoke with authority and with confidence that they were proclaiming the truth, but whether that constituted an awareness of their own "infallibility" is hard to say and perhaps impossible to determine -- which is to say that it's beside the point. Perhaps they were too humble to regard themselves as infallible, even though they were.

Alex: It is just an alternative to the Roman Catholic one. Whether it is true, that's another question, which, strictly speaking, is a different issue.

Adomnan: Okay. But the question that interested me and that I commented on was whether this non-Catholic alternative was true. And I argued it wasn't.

Alex: Which books of the Bible were not written by either a prophet or an an apostle?

Adomnan: Mark, Luke, Acts and Hebrews. There are disputes about the authorship of some other New Testament books, but everyone agrees these I mentioned were not written by spostles. There is no indication that the New Testament prophets wrote any books: and Mark, Luke and the anonymous author of Hebrews were never called "prophets."

Adomnan said...

Alex: Did not Jesus tell us that we should pray for our enemies and bless those who hate us?

Adomnan: Sometimes the most loving thing you can do for your enemies is to fight them.

Adomnan said...

Given that Dave prefers not to interact with you because of your anti-Catholicism, I'll comment on some of the observations you made to him.

Alex: First, the term "apostolic succession" is misleading, because it would suggest that the pope and cardinals would be apostles.

Adomnan: No, we use the term "apostolic succession" not to claim that the pope and bishops are apostles, but to assert that they are the only legitimate successors to the apostles -- that's what the "succession" part of the phrase means. This seems reasonably clear to me, and if some are confused by this wording, we're happy to clear up the confusion, as I just did.

Alex: But they are not, for otherwise they would have the signs of apostles, cf. 2 Cor 12:12.

Adomnan: As I said, we don't claim they are apostles, and so this is a straw man argument.

Alex: Second, the term "apostle" in its narrow sense applies to a Prime Witness of Christ's bodily resurrection.

Adomnan: That's not biblical. Paul writes in 1 Cor 15:3-8:

"The tradition I handed on to you in the first place, a tradition which I had myself received, was that Christ died for our sins, in accordance with the scriptures, and that he was buried; and that on the third day, he was raised to life, in accordance with the scriptures; and that he appeared to Cephas; and later to the Twelve; and next he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers at the same time, most of whom are still with us, though some have fallen asleep; then he appeared to James, and then to all the apostles. Last of all he appeared to me too, as though I was a child born abnormally."

Those "more than five hundred" were witnesses of Christ's resurrection and yet they were not apostles. Similarly, the women at the tomb were witnesses of Christ's resurrection and were not apostles.

So, whatever the definition of "apostle" (in this case, for Paul), it did not mean "prime witness of the resurrection." Any eye-witness of the resurrection counts as a "prime witness" (because not secondary).

Alex: Consequently, we could only have apostles in the period when it was possible to be a witness of Christ's bodily resurrection, i.e. the first century.

Adomnan: We agree with you that the apostles were only in that first generation. We don't call bishops "apostles," but "successors to the apostles." The apostles ordained the first bishops and deacons and invested them with their authority, and then these in turn appointed successors. The only divinely appointed church leaders are those ordained by the apostles or their successors. (The bishops presided over the eucharist with the assistance of the deacons; members of the middle tier of the ministry -- whom we call "priests," short for "presbyters" -- were generally appointed by bishops, while the bishops were all appointed by apostles or other bishops. Thus, all three tiers of the hierarchy derive their authority from the apostles, either directly or indirectly, through sacramental ordination.)

Adomnan said...

The epistle of Clement, who was a disciple of Peter and Paul and appointed by Peter as his successor, explained all this already in the first century:

1 Clement: 42 and (part of) 44:

"The Apostles received the Gospel for us from the Lord Jesus Christ, Jesus the Christ was sent from God. The Christ therefore is from God and the Apostles from the Christ. In both ways, then, they were in accordance with the appointed order of God's will. Having therefore received their commands, and being fully assured by the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ, and with faith confirmed by the word of God, they went forth in the assurance of the Holy Spirit preaching the good news that the Kingdom of God is coming.

"They preached from district to district, and from city to city, and they appointed their first converts, testing them by the Holy Spirit, to be bishops and deacons of the future believers. And this was no new method, for many years before had bishops and deacons been written of; for the scripture says thus in one place 'I will establish their bishops in righteousness, and their deacons in faith.'

"Our Apostles also knew through our Lord Jesus Christ that there would be strife for the title of bishop. For this cause, therefore, since they had received perfect foreknowledge, they appointed those who have been already mentioned, and afterwards added the codicil that if they should fall asleep, other approved men should succeed to their ministry. We consider therefore that it is not just to remove from their ministry those who were appointed by them, or later on by other eminent men, with the consent of the whole Church, and have ministered to the flock of Christ without blame, humbly, peaceably, and disinterestedly, and for many years have received a universally favorable testimony. For our sin is not small, if we eject from the episcopate those who have blamelessly and holily offered its sacrifices."

Note that it is the "eminent men" (other bishops) who appoint new bishops; the rest of the Church merely "consents." Seocndly, the ministry is seen to be one of sacrificing priests. Jesus Christ made the Twelve priests when he ordained them to perform the eucharistic sacrifice at the Last Supper.

Gregory said...

Hello to all

I'm a 20 year old college student. I am not equipped with a thorough, sufficient knowledge of this topic to contribute and provide support for this academic discussion. However, I will say this.

I am a Roman Catholic, and proud to be one. I am also proud of the many people who have taken their time to live out Paragraph 900 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church (Dave especially).


I want to extend a reminder to all about Jesus' second Great Commandment "love one another as I have loved you." All of the Catholic Church's apologists, which there are many formally and informally, live out this commandment. They do their best to express the truths to the same Church that Christ established on earth. Though this love is not the "love" society defines, it is a love for your souls.

I hope, in the deepest sense possible, that all who oppose Catholic teaching will at least take the time to read about the truths of the Church. Any commitment less is nothing more than an ignorant attempt to back away from a very important dialogue.

The clearest sense of God's grace, his omnipotent power, and sacrifical love are all outlined in the beauty of the Catholic Church. Anyone wishing to prove me wrong...good luck.

Blessings to you all

a brother in Christ

Dave Armstrong said...

Thanks for your kind words, Gregory. God bless ya!

Mary Elaine Murray said...

The errors of Kalkas are so numerous it is hard to know where to begin to refute him. As Jesus said "the scribes and the Pharisees sit on the Chair of Moses. All things therefore whatsoever they say to you, observe and do." (Matt. 2,3), shows that in the Old Testament as well as in the New Testament there was a divinely appointed teaching authority to protect the people from fools like Kalkas who wrest scriptures "to their own destruction." (2 Peter 3: 16). In the New Testament Jesus said: "He that hears you, hears Me." (Luke 10: 16), and "Behold I am with you all days even to the consummation of the world." (Matt. 28: 20). Those words and the testimony of the scriptures showing St. Paul ordaining priests and bishops: Titus 1: 5-9 & 1 Tim. 3: 1,2, and the fact that St. Peter had a continual line of successors in the primacy (St. Peter died 67 A.D, his successor was St. Linus 67-79, after him came St. Cletus 79-89 etc..) shows the establishment of the Church and its hierarchy which would continue until "the consummation of the world." For 1500 years the only Christian church that existed was the Catholic Church, and all, everywhere, believed in the teaching authority of the Chair of Peter as the people of the Old Testament believed in the teaching authority and sacred tradition of the Chair of Moses. The words of Jesus condemning the human traditions of the scribes and the Pharisees were not referring to sacred tradition which safeguards divine revelation in its integrity and solves questions and difficulties, as the Council of Trent set forth the truth of the Gospel in opposition to the errors of Protestantism.